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10 Famous Commencement Speeches

        Culture | Learning

On a rainy day, graduates of the Morehouse College Class of 2013 cheered the commencement speech given by President Barack Obama, one of the 10 on our list. See more college pictures. © JASON REED/Reuters/Corbis

"I have a dream."

"Four score and seven years ago."

Some speeches are so memorable we can quote them at will. But few of them are commencement speeches. How many of us can recall the commencement speech at our college graduation?

What if a commencement speech was not something to be endured, but to be treasured? And what if, instead of the same tired sentiments to "go forward and seize the day," the 20-minute address dispensed a glimpse of humanity's higher self?

Thankfully, some of those exist. But it's not all rainbows and butterflies. Many memorable speeches have a touch of the macabre that foreshadow the underbelly of adulthood.

After reading dozens of transcripts and viewing hours of footage, we've distilled 10 famous commencement speeches to their essence. Some speeches are memorable because of their time in history or because millions watched it online. Some were later published as books. At least one became a hit song. Here they are, in chronological order.


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